A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer  

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The journey that brought A Tailor-Made Bride to publication is an unusual one, for it started with a different manuscript altogether. In 2007, I took my first completed novel to the ACFW conference. I arrived a day early and worked at the volunteer station stuffing envelopes. A woman worked beside me who shared my first name. Hmm…that's fun, I thought. However, as time ticked on, I picked up clues to her identity from others in the room. This was Karen Schurrer, an editor from Bethany House, my dream publisher.

I never worked so hard to act normal in my life! I resisted throwing my pitch at her, but two days later, I sat at her lunch table, and after everyone explained their projects, one brave writer asked if we could send her our proposals. She said yes.

After the conference, I immediately sent in my proposal and soon had a request for a full manuscript. Surely a contract was right around the corner, right? Wrong. The acquisitions editor, Charlene Patterson, rejected my manuscript. She considered the plot too unoriginal for launching a new author. Nevertheless, she complimented my writing and said there was one component to the story that she did like—the dress shop. Could I come up with a new idea surrounding a dress shop?

Now you have to understand, in the original book, the dress shop burned to the ground in the prologue. It didn't even make it into chapter one. Yet Charlene wanted me to create an entirely new book from scratch based on this shop idea. Could I do that?

By this time, I was halfway into a second book that was supposed to be a sequel to the one that had just been rejected. I'm the kind of person that can't stand to leave a job undone, and this second story could stand alone from the other. The only tie in was that the heroine had been a secondary character in the first book. So, I dug up my courage and wrote back to Charlene. I told her that I would absolutely work on some ideas for a dress shop book, but I was in the middle of another story that she might find interesting. I included a brief synopsis of the story and explained that I would like to finish it first before starting on another project.

She was very encouraging and said the book had possibilities and invited me to submit it when I had it finished. In the meantime, I worked up some ideas for the dress shop book and sent those in as well. She gave me some feedback, told me what she liked and what she would recommend that I change, and we left it at that.

Six months later, I finished that second book. The 2008 ACFW conference was only a few weeks away. Doubting Charlene would remember me, I held my breath and sent her a short note saying that I had finished the manuscript, reminding her that she had invited me to submit it, and offering to send sample chapters. To my shock, she not only remembered me but told me to send her the full manuscript. She also asked about the dress shop book and made arrangements to meet with me at the upcoming conference to discuss both projects.

Charlene shared the manuscript with Karen, my first editor contact, and both of them not only read it before conference, but sent me comments. They each met with me in person and confided that they were interested but were waiting to see what I did with the all-important dress shop book. At conference time, I had a synopsis and one whole chapter to show them. One chapter that I ended up completely scrapping after I visited with them. Despite that, Charlene told me that I didn't have to finish the entire story before I submitted to her again. Just get about 7 chapters in, she said, and send it in.

So I did. I wrote those seven chapters and e-mailed them to her. By January 2009, Bethany House offered me a three book deal launching with A Tailor-Made Bride, the dress shop book. Oh, and that second book that had been completed earlier? That one is coming out in October as Head in the Clouds.

As for developing the story for A Tailor-Made Bride, I knew my heroine would be a seamstress since my key prop was a dress shop. So next I had to think up potential conflicts. What if the hero had plans for purchasing that particular storefront, but the owner gave it to an outsider who knew nothing about their community? What if he hated dressmakers? But why would he hate dressmakers? What if something in his past led him to consider women who valued fine clothing as self-centered and vain? What if he had a sister, and this sister wanted to attract a beau and sought out the dressmaker's help?

The ideas started rolling. As for the theme of the book, the question that got me started was: What happens when believers disagree about what the Christian life should look like? I wanted to demonstrate that even small differences of opinion based on personal interpretations of Scripture and life experiences can cause tears in the fabric of unity that Christ desires for his followers. Since my heroine was a dressmaker, I selected inner vs. outer beauty as the point of conflict. And you might be surprised at where my two strong-willed characters end up meeting on the issue.

It usually takes me about a year to move from concept to completed book, including the time spent in research. However, with A Tailor-Made Bride, the publisher had an opening three months earlier than expected. I had to increase my pace, but I managed to get it finished in about 7½ months. Since turning in that manuscript, it took nearly another full year before the book made it into print. It's been a bumpy ride, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Karen's Bio:

Karen Witemeyer is a deacon's wife who believes the world needs more happily-ever-afters. To that end, she combines her love of bygone eras with her passion for helping women mature in Christ to craft historical romance novels that lift the spirit and nurture the soul.

Karen holds a master's degree in Psychology from Abilene Christian University and is a member of ACFW, RWA, and her local writers' guild. She's an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.

Book Blurb:

When a dressmaker who values beauty tangles with a liveryman who condemns vanity, the sparks begin to fly!

Jericho "J.T." Tucker wants nothing to do with the new dressmaker in Coventry, Texas. He's all too familiar with her kind—shallow women more devoted to fashion than true beauty. Yet, except for her well-tailored clothes, this seamstress is not at all what he expected.

Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery. The unsmiling fellow riles her with his arrogant assumptions and gruff manner, while at the same time stirring her heart with unexpected acts of kindness. Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man?

When Hannah decides to help Jericho's sister catch a beau--leading to consequences neither could have foreseen--will Jericho and Hannah find a way to bridge the gap between them?

Tommie Lyn Talks about Why She Chose the Independent Publishing Route  

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English was my favorite subject when I was in school. I always made good grades, particularly on the essays we had to write from time to time. And I loved reading fiction. I thought it would be wonderful if I could write stories that would give other people as much enjoyment as reading gave me.

So, when I was in my early twenties, I wrote a short story. It was awful. I concluded that, in order to write fiction, you had to have an inborn talent, one which I didn’t have.

I tried again when I was about thirty. I wrote a fictionalized account of a coming-of-age anecdote my grandmother shared with me. It was no better than my first attempt, and it finalized my acceptance of the fact that I had no ability to write fiction. I didn’t try again. Until I reached my sixties.

While doing some historical and genealogical research, I learned some things that demanded to be told. And I thought they should be told as fiction, because too many folks aren’t interested in reading history, but they will read entertaining fiction. I knew I had no ability to write it, though, so I tried to convince others to write it. No one would.

I wanted to forget about it, but the story burned in me. So I started trying to write it, with the same pitiful results I’d always had when I turned my hand to fiction. But this time, I didn’t quit trying. I couldn’t quit trying. The story wouldn’t let me.

I found out about an online writing class offered by our local junior college, and I decided to sign up. I would learn enough to write the story, or I’d fail, but either way, I’d give the story a chance to be told. Through that course, I learned of other fiction resources, and I began writing High on a Mountain.

About the time I completed those two classes, I retired and began writing full time. Six weeks later, the manuscript was finished. Or so I thought. (I’d never heard the term “rough draft” nor the concept of doing a “rewrite.” I had typed “The End,” so, in my estimation, my story was done). I did realize that it probably wasn’t the best it could be, so I paid an editor to polish it for me. (I didn’t know it was too rough to apply the polish at that point.)

The next month, I joined ChristianWriters.com, learned about NaNoWriMo and signed up. And when NaNo started two weeks later, I wrote my second novel, ...and night falls. It was during NaNo that I discovered how to let a story flow instead of trying to hammer it out and construct it, as I’d done with High on a Mountain.

A few months after that first NaNo, I attended a nearby writer’s conference and made pitches for High on a Mountain to two editors and two agents. All four requested sample chapters. I realize now, it was the unique storyline and my zeal for it that piqued their interest. But when they saw the writing, well, what happened next was inevitable...rejection, rejection, rejection.

Since that time, I’ve studied, researched, and learned more about the writing process. And I’ve rewritten, edited and tweaked the manuscript countless times (while, at the same time, writing three other novels). And I’ve gotten good rejections on my other novels: “It’s a well-written, intense story, and it will be published. Unfortunately, we can’t publish it because it doesn’t fit our guidelines.”

As I continued to learn about writing, I also researched various aspects of the publishing industry. I encountered one piece of information that gave me pause: it generally takes at least ten years for a writer to be accepted and published. I realized that at my age, I may not have ten years left for the waiting process.

So I decided to take matters into my own hands (as has been my habit in other areas of my life). I learned all I could about self-publishing, learned the pitfalls to avoid, and last February, I published my first NaNovel, ...and night falls, through Amazon’s CreateSpace.

It was a positive experience for me. I loved knowing that folks enjoyed reading what I’d written. I published my other two NaNovels, Scribbles and On Berryhill Road, then followed with Tugger’s Down several months later.

And in March, I finally ushered High on a Mountain into print.

Folks ask my advice about self-publishing, and I have to say, it isn’t for everyone. You must be a self-starter, ready to do whatever is required to promote your book. You must be proficient in English grammar, spelling and punctuation, or be ready to pay a professional editor to polish your manuscript.

You also must have the skills necessary to design both the cover and the interior layout, or be ready to pay to have those things done for you. I’m very blessed in that I’d worked in the field of graphic design. I enjoyed the cover creation, interior design and typesetting for each of my books.

But what I enjoy most is hearing from readers who’ve enjoyed my stories...NOW, while I’m still around to know about it.

Find out more about Tommie Lyn at the following locations:

Tommie's Website

Tommie's Blog

And the Winner is...!  

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Congrats to Joanne who won the give-away for Kristen Heitzmann's Indivisible!

You're going to love it Joanne! I'll contact you for your address and get this sent right off to you.

Book Review & Give Away ~ Indivisible by Kristen Heitzmann  

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From the Publisher:
An inseparable bond.
An insatiable force.

Battling his own personal demons, Police Chief Jonah Westfall knows the dark side of life and has committed himself to eradicating it. When a pair of raccoons are found mutilated in Redford, Colorado, Jonah investigates the gruesome act, knowing the strange event could escalate and destroy the tranquility of his small mountain town. With a rising drug threat and never-ending conflict with Tia Manning, a formidable childhood friend with whom he has more than a passing history, Jonah fights for answers—and his fragile sobriety.

But he can’t penetrate every wound or secret—especially one fueled by a love and guilt teetering on madness.

From best-selling author Kristen Heitzmann comes a spellbinding tale of severed connections and the consequences of life lived alone.

Here is a link to an interview Kristen did: http://www.multnomahemails.com/wbmlt/audio/Kristen_Heitzmann.mp3

My Review:

I loved this book. Of course, there have been very few Heitzmann books that I haven't enjoyed! In Indivisible the romantic tension is thick, the mystery is page-turning, and the secondary characters add just the right touch of glaze to the top of what is already a very tasty pastry. A very enjoyable read!

I'm offering a give-away for Indivisible. Leave a comment on this post and you will be entered to win the book. The drawing will be held next Friday the 21st, of May.

About the Author:

While home schooling her four kids, Kristen Heitzmann wrote her first novel. It became one of a five book historical series. Since then, she has written three more historical novels and eight contemporary romantic and psychological suspense novels including The Still of Night, nominated for the Colorado Book Award, The Tender Vine, a Christy Award finalist and Christy Award winning Secrets. She lives in Colorado with her husband Jim, sundry family members, and pets.
Learn more about the author at her website.

Sarah Sundin Shares Her Road to Publication  

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I come from stubborn stock. Stubbornness genes flowed from both sides of my family and puddled in my soul. Stubbornness can be seen as annoying mule-headedness or as true strength—persistence, tenacity. Without stubbornness, I wouldn’t have a book on the shelf.
My path to publication is unconventional. Although I grew up surrounded by books, I rarely considered a writing career. Instead, I studied chemistry and received my doctorate in pharmacy. After graduation, I chose to work one day a week as a hospital pharmacist so I could stay home with our three children. On January 6, 2000, when our youngest was a toddler, I had a dream with such intriguing characters that I felt compelled to write their story. Before that date, I’d never had an idea for a book, and after that, ideas flowed. It was as if God turned on a writing switch in my brain. The novel that came from that dream will never be published, nor should it, but it got me started.
Since God had called me to write and since our children were young, I decided if I was going to dedicate time to writing, I needed to be serious and pursue publication. I went to my first writers’ conference in September 2000 with a perfect 750-page manuscript and one question—how to find a publisher. That one-day conference showed me everything I was doing wrong. I came home with several books on writing craft and slashed my manuscript in half. I still had a lot to learn.
In 2001, I joined Diablo Valley Christian Writers’ Group. My writers’ group has taught me three main things: 1) how to write 2) how to handle critique, and 3) a writer needs other writers. Later that year I attended another conference taught by Lauraine Snelling. She taught me so much about plotting, characterization, and research. At that point I was playing with the idea for A Distant Melody, and Lauraine’s teaching got me off to a great start.
The concept for A Distant Melody came out of a “what if” question—what if a man and woman met at an event, truly clicked, and parted before exchanging contact info? Wouldn’t it be romantic if he went through great effort to track her down? It wouldn’t work in a contemporary setting—he’d “Google” her—but it made a sweet premise for a historical. My husband and I watched a History Channel special on the US Eighth Air Force based in England which flew over Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, and I was hooked.
But a historical? Historicals require research! And I’d never flown a plane—how could I put myself in my hero’s seat behind the wheel of a four-engined bomber?
So for the next year I immersed myself in research. I read basic texts on World War II, the home front, and the Eighth Air Force. I checked out a “How to Fly” book to get the basics, purchased copies of the B-17 pilot’s manual and the Army Air Force training film (pure gold!), and ran the flying scenes past a pilot friend. For home front information, I used everything from Top Ten lists, to fashion style guides, to the Time Capsule series with extracts from Time Magazine. I loved my research so much that the story expanded to become a trilogy, with each book focusing on one of three brothers.
In 2003, my writers’ group encouraged me (pushed me?) to show my work to professionals, so I submitted at Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference. I received good feedback from published authors, editors, and agents—and began accumulating a stack of “good” rejection letters. They liked my writing, my story, and my characters—however, historicals weren’t selling. They wanted chick lit. This continued for years.
I never wanted to give up on the series, because I loved my characters. However, in 2005 all doors to publication seemed closed and padlocked, and I wondered whether I had heard God correctly. Was I truly meant to write? Was I wasting my time when I could be doing something more productive?
That year at Mount Hermon I went for a walk under the redwoods and stopped to admire a little white flower. I praised God for the flower and felt touched—had He made that flower just so I would praise Him? Then I looked around me. Hundreds of redwoods covered the hills, and thousands more out of my vision, all surrounded by white blossoms. How many of those flowers would ever cause someone to stop and praise God? Were they created in vain? Did the Lord waste His time creating them? Of course not. God is a creative Being, and He made us in His creative image. In His mercy, the Lord showed me that even if my writing was never seen by another human being and never caused anyone to praise Him, I did the right thing obeying His call to write. I was not wasting my time.
So I kept writing. I kept submitting. I kept praying. Then at Mount Hermon in March 2008, I heard, “We don’t want chick lit. We need historicals.” And there I was with my trilogy close to complete. I submitted to Vicki Crumpton at Revell, and in September I was offered a three-book contract. A Distant Melody was published in March 2010, ten years and two months after that first dream. The second book in the Wings of Glory series, A Memory Between Us, comes out in September 2010, and the third book in August 2011.
Mother Teresa said, “God doesn’t require us to succeed; He only requires that you try.” If God has called you to do something for Him, measure your success through His eyes. Did you obey? Were you faithful? Did you persevere?
Stubbornness can be a serious fault, but when it’s applied to following God’s will, it’s a very good thing.

The Writing Journey for Texas Roads by Cathy Bryant  

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It’s been said that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” While I understand the sentiment behind the phrase, to me it somehow lessens and negates the other millions of steps taken in any journey. Yes, there has to be that first step, but sometimes the real effort comes in later steps after the excitement of embarking on the journey has worn off.

For me, life is not only a journey, but a series of mini-journeys. And for authors, each book is a journey all its own. For my novel TEXAS ROADS, the journey consisted of both an inner personal trip as well as the outer steps needed to produce a work of fiction. Let me begin by giving a little background to help you understand my trek into the world of writing TEXAS ROADS

I’ve always longed for one little corner of the world to call my own, yet for many years my family and I seemed destined to travel from one small Texas town to the next. Just as we’d start to feel at home in one place, God moved us on somewhere else. Finally I reached a breaking point. If God loved me so much, why wouldn’t He give me this one desire of my heart?

Hindsight makes comprehension so much easier, doesn’t it? I now see that through this part of my life journey God was gently revealing that He was my home. Only He could fill that home-sized hole in my heart. That quest and discovery of true home became the spiritual journey for my heroine in TEXAS ROADS. From outward appearances, Dani Davis has it all—wealth, social status, a fulfilling career. But on the inside she knows something is missing. She feels empty, and wrongly assumes that it’s because she’s never felt like she belonged anywhere.

When she stumbles upon Miller’s Creek, Texas, with its quaint country charm, quirky residents, and business potential, it seems like the perfect place to start over. Small town life comes with its own set of challenges, but she quickly adapts. Then malicious rumors and a devastating discovery cause her dreams of home to slowly crumble and begin to fade away.

My writing journey has been much the same. Only when I lost what I thought was rightfully mine was I able to embark on the journey God had planned for me—that of becoming a writer. My first single step was a two-footer as I jumped in with both feet, eager to test my wings. Those first steps weren’t tentative for me, but more like an excited skip down a new pathway.

After an extensive pre-writing session where I filled out lengthy character charts and wrote a synopsis that was more like a novella, the first draft of TEXAS ROADS flowed easily. Then the challenge of the journey threatened to stop me in my tracks. The problem came from my own na├»ve assumption. As a newbie, I thought the book would be written in that first draft. You can imagine my disappointment in reading over the story. Maybe writing wasn’t my thing. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to take this road. My steps slowed. I looked back.

I’d already come so far. I’d spent hours reading craft of writing books and more hours of applying what I’d learned to my writing. I’d invested money, time, sweat and tears on the journey. And if I stopped now, what would I do? Like the gentle Shepherd that He is, God nudged me to take another step. Only His constant nudging pushed me up the mountain of edits and revisions. He provided a whole host of friends who were brutally honest and helped me shape and polish the story. Finally I made it to the mountain top. Ah, at last! I was skipping down the road again. The story secured some recognition in the ACFW Genesis competition and provided momentum to push me up the next incline.

Then I came to a fork in the road. One path was filled with people just like me—those who wanted to make a difference in the world through the stories they told—some who’d already cleared a few obstacles in the path toward publication and were quickly becoming known as storytellers.

The other path was a little shadowy and very narrow—the path of self-publishing. From where I stood, it looked rocky and steep. Many fellow travelers had only made it halfway up the mountain where they now congregated in an attempt to catch their breath. To make it worse, some of the people from the first path jeered at them.

How was I supposed to know which way to go? In all honesty, neither path looked appealing. I sighed and followed the majority. But the further I traveled down my chosen pathway, the less right it felt. So I did what I should have done in the first place: I stopped and asked God what He wanted me to do.

He motioned for me to backtrack, and then started leading me up the narrow path. “Lord, I don’t think I can do this.”

“You’re right. You can’t. At least not by yourself.”

My pulse thundered in my ears at the implication. I knew I needed to trust Him more. “But Lord, the success rate isn’t too great on this road.”

“Whose success are you after, yours or Mine?”

His words sliced clean and deep, removing the vanity and pride that had built up in my heart. I grabbed hold of His outstretched hand and began to climb.

So far the journey of writing and independently publishing TEXAS ROADS has taken three years, but just because a book has been published doesn’t mean the journey is over. I’m currently learning to take the difficult steps of getting the word out about the book.

Why stay on this exhausting road? Because it’s His story, not mine.

Click on the cover of the book to be taken to the Amazon page. Or download a Smashwords e-book here: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/8963 . Connect with Cathy on her blog, WordVessel.